Why we're here:
This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive live broadcast TV programmes, or to watch or download on-demand programmes via the BBC iPlayer, then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

If you've just arrived here from a search engine, then you might find our Quick Guide helpful.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Using Your TV Set to Listen to Radio: An Important Reminder

For whatever reason we've been receiving a lot of visitors searching for information about whether a TV licence is required by a person ONLY using their TV set to listen to radio.

A TV licence is only required for those properties where equipment is used to receive TV programmes at the same time, or virtually the same time, as they are received by other members of the general public.

Radio programmes on digital terrestrial, satellite or cable do not fall into this category.

A problem arises in that most people listening to radio programmes on a TV set will also have the ability to receive TV programmes, which would legally need to be covered by a TV licence, at the same time.

Remember that the ability to receive TV programmes does not, in its own right, require a TV licence. It is the actual act of receiving TV programmes that is licensable and not the mere ability to do so.

To avoid unnecessary repetition, we would direct readers to the following articles for more information:
- Taking a TV Licence Fee Holiday
- TV Licence Evasion: The Rudd Defence
- Student Guide to TV Licensing Rules

We would also invite anyone seeking a general overview of current TV Licensing legislation and enforcement to visit our Quick Guide page.

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Government Orders Review of BBC TV Licence Fee

Only a couple of days into the job, the Government has ordered a review into the future of the BBC TV licence fee.

Keen to exercise his strengthened Commons majority the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has asked Downing Street aides to investigate whether non-payment of the TV licence fee should be decriminalised.

Under current legislation, notably the Communications Act 2003, it is a criminal offence for a person to use or install, or allow to be used or installed, a television receiver in an unlicensed property.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of a fine at level 3 (currently £1,000) on the standard scale. TV licence evasion accounts for more than 1-in-10 of all cases dealt with by the Magistrates' Court in England and Wales, which places a disproportionate burden on valuable court time and resources.

The TV licence exclusively funds the BBC, but the £154.50 annual fee has to be paid irrespective of the channel a person chooses to watch. Additionally, from 1st September 2016, a TV licence is also required to watch or download BBC on-demand programmes via the iPlayer.

It would appear that Mr Johnson is no fan of the BBC or TV licence.

Last week on the campaign trail, the Prime Minister said: "I think the system of funding by what is effectively a general tax… bears reflection.

"How long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of TV and radio channels? That is the question."

A Downing Street source told the Mail on Sunday: "The BBC speaks to a pro-Remain metropolitan bubble in Islington, not the real world represented by Wakefield and Workington.

"There has been a failure by senior management at the BBC, and we expect them to launch an internal review of their performance."

The Prime Minister's top advisor, Dominic Cummings, is said to oppose the continuing TV licence fee, which he claims is outdated in an age of subscription and on-demand television services.

Mr Cummings is also highly critical about the BBC's output, and is particularly dismissive of the Today programme – which for decades set the daily news agenda through interviews with Cabinet Ministers.

Mr Cummings has told colleagues that he 'never listens' to the programme any more. Yesterday the Government refused to put up a Minister for an interview on the programme, despite its recent General Election landslide victory.

The Downing Street source added: "The Today programme is irrelevant, it is not a serious programme any more so we are not going to engage with it – it is far better for us to put people up on BBC Breakfast and Five Live."

Ministers are constrained from making quick changes to the TV licence by having previously agreed under the BBC's Royal Charter to continue the current system until 2027, but moves to decriminalise non-payment could be introduced in Thursday's Queen's Speech – effectively turning it into a voluntary opt-in system.

A BBC spokesman said: "The Government has already commissioned a QC (David Perry) to take an in-depth look at this matter and he found that 'the current system of criminal deterrence and prosecution should be maintained' and that it is fair and value for money to licence fee payers.

"The review also found that non-payment cases accounted for 'a minute fraction' - only 0.3 percent - of court time.

"Decriminalisation could also mean we have at least £200 million less to spend on programmes and services our audiences love."

Of course most TV Licensing Blog readers will already know that David Perry's report into the future funding of the BBC was a bit like Shami Chakrabarti's report into antisemitism in the Labour Party - total bollocks written to suit the agenda of the organisation commissioning it!

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Monday, 9 December 2019

Conservatives Plan Radical Overhaul of BBC TV Licence

This week's General Election will hopefully signal a move away from the divisive issue of Brexit and back towards the domestic agenda.

According to a leading journalist the Conservatives, should they retain power, are hatching a plan to radically overhaul the anachronistic method of funding the BBC.

Alex Wickham, senior political correspondent of BuzzFeed UK and former Guido Fawkes news editor, tweeted earlier today that Conservative spin chief Dominic Cummings and senior Downing Street aides are "looking at either abolishing (the TV licence) entirely or decriminalising non-payment."

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was out on the campaign trail in Labour's northern heartlands today. Speaking to journalists in Washington, Tyne and Wear, the subject of the TV licence fee came up.

"At this stage we are not planning to get rid of all licence fees, though I am certainly looking at it", the Prime Minister said.

"But you have to ask yourself whether that kind of approach to funding a TV media organisation still makes sense in the long term given the way other media organisations manage to fund themselves.

"The system of funding out of effectively a general tax bears reflection. How long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of TV and radio channels."

Any changes to the BBC's funding model would require Parliament to pass fresh legislation, with the broadcaster's Royal Charter currently guaranteeing the existence of the TV licence fee until 2027.

The Government, whoever that is, will soon be starting separate negotiations about the rate of the TV licence, which could prove the ideal opportunity to rein the BBC in.

Responding to the Prime Minister's comments, a BBC spokesman said: "As we've said before, the licence fee ensures a universal BBC which serves everyone, is the most popular funding system among the public and is agreed as the method of funding the BBC for another eight years."

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